Sunday, 6 November 2011

Japanese occupation Showa overprints

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I would try to help in spotting some JO forgeries. This is a difficult and complex subject and I am definitely an amateur. The Showa overprints were carried out in the Chinese press at Kuching. Contrary to what was known before, there are definitely minor variations within a sheet of overprints. Looking at the pair of 1Y Buddha stamps above, one could see the minor differences in thickness and length of strokes in the japanese characters.

The 5s stamp is genuine but I believe the 10s has a fake overprint. Again there are some minor differences in the overprint.

Looking at the back, one could see an impression has been made at the back by the overprint on the 5s stamp but is fairly flat on the other stamp even though one could see the ink coming through. It does not show up that clearly on the scan.

Again a genuine 8s stamp with the same 10s stamp with forged overprint.

At the back of the 8s stamp, one could see some impression made by the overprint. I believe this is the easiest way to spot a fake Showa overprint even though it is definitely not fool proof. Over the weekend, I was attending the Philatex fair in London. One dealer was offering a good selection of the 20s Mount Fiji Showa stamp at a fair price. It is my favourite stamp in the set. I was going to buy but on examining the back and finding no indentation, I changed my mind. By the way, if you are buying used, make sure the date is August or September 1945. Because they use at least 2 different calender systems, I have on idea what it is supposed to look like. But they are still philatelic rather than of normal usage. 

Update Repeating this exercise with my small collection of 3 line overprints has yielded some disturbing results. The "Borneo Kita" inscription is exactly the same as the bottom line of the 3 line overprint. My 2 tarnished looking copies has definite indentation but my fresh looking stamps including a $1 used copy do not look so promising. The chop was also applied at the Chinese Press in Kuching.


  1. how to view the 1942 overprint japanese occupation at the back stamps?

  2. I am no expert but can rely on my past experience in handling such material. The indentation made by a handstamp is not a foolproof method but at least you are on safe grounds if it is present. Some genuine overprints may have been too softly applied to leave any mark on the back.
    It is best viewed at an angle rather than straight on. The more acute angle the better. I presume your stamp is mint and there would be a minor disturbance of the gum. I would not bother with used examples. Firstly they were very rare and secondly, there are many fake postmarks. Some are crude but many would fool even experts.
    With the the overprints on the Showa series, we are looking at 2 main types of forgeries. The hand painted ones were very expertly done but they would leave no indentations. The modern forgeries are mostly inkjet or laser printed. Again there would be no indentations. The main feature here is if you compare 2 of the same, the overprints are completely identical in terms of inking, shade etc. There is one with a stray dot of the third character as seen in my posting in 21 January 2012.
    I shall soon posting some good examples of forged 1 line cancels on this blog. If you are paying a lot of money for a JO stamp, insist on a good certificate. Lastly, best of luck in your stamp hunting. It is so exciting!